Why Coffee Smells Better Than It Tastes

New research has uncovered why people love the smell, but hate the taste of their morning cup of coffee


For some, there's nothing like the scent of a fresh cup of coffee brewing. And for some, that wonderful scent is ruined by the bitter taste of the beverage. So why does the smell of coffee seem so much better than the actual taste of the drink? 

The Telegraph reports on a new discovery from scientists that proves why scent can be more pleasing than taste. The gist? When you swallow a sip of coffee, the scent travels up the back of your throat and into the nose, where the olfactory receptors signal a reaction to the smell. But the receptors go to a different part of the brain, where taste isn't as well-received. It's what's called the "second sense of smell," or the "retronasal" sense of smell. (The first kind of smell is when you inhale a scent from your environment.)

Seems like kind of a bummer for coffee lovers, huh? At least fans of smelly cheeses have retronasal smell going for them. Said researcher and professor Barry Smith to the British Science Festival, "It smells like the inside of a teenager’s training shoe. But once it’s in your mouth, and you are experiencing the odour through the nose in the other direction, it is delicious." So enjoy that early-morning scent, but don't hold your breath for a great cup of coffee — it's science, after all. 


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